Tag Archives: Neal Stephenson

What price, ebooks? Or a tale of the Rise of the Machines, available on Nook and Kindle!

I’ve been thinking about the rise of the machines.

By which I mean ebooks.

Oh, I’ve heard all the arguments in favor:

– An entire library on a tablet thinner than most paperbacks (excluding Neal Stephenson and J.R.R. Tolkien, of course).

– The ability to buy a book (or download a free one) without having to leave your home or local coffee shop.

– Now anyone can publish a book – no more insidious ‘gatekeepers’ holding back those who would redefine a genre by experimenting with language, eschewing traditional plot expectations, or wholeheartedly embracing outside-the-box characterizations.

– We get eased into acceptance of machines controlling our lives with the “Recommended Book” and/or “Readers who bought this book also bought…” functionality. It seems so convenient, so…harmless.

But then you start hearing about the consequences:

– The end of brick and mortar stores as we know it.

– Sellers able to rescind a sale and remotely delete a book from your eReader. Or worse, transfer altered versions of books to your device without your knowledge.

Do you have any idea how hard it will be for our children to cite passages from ever-changing ebooks in their book reports? The ‘A’ may become a mythical, unattainable grade!

– The introduction of bastardized, non-English words into the lexicon, such as e-book and eReader. They’re not real words, people! Fight the corruption of our language!

– Now anyone can publish a book – no more fastidious ‘gatekeepers’ making sure grammar is correct, plot discernible, characters believable.

– The disappearance of bookcases from homes.

This last one was news to me, until I heard mentioned on the radio that the rise of ebooks means that in thirty years, homes won’t have any bookcases anymore.

I heard it on NPR, so it must be true.

That one gave me pause. A home without bookcases.

I have a lot of bookcases in my home. It would look weird without them. But if they become unneeded and rare, then that means demand will dropped, production been scaled back, and those of us who still want them will have to pay more money for them.

That’s not fair. Where else am I going to put all my knickknacks? I can’t use the top of the TV since society transitioned to wall-mounted flat screens.

My curios curse the day the LCD TV was invented.

Reading Marlowe and the Spacewoman under the covers against the missus' express orders to go to bed

A generation won't destroy their eyesight trying to read in the dark - how is this sane?

And what about that time-honored childhood tradition of being curled up under the covers, hours after bedtime, reading by the fading illumination of a trusty flashlight? Are we to deprive future generations of that bookish act of rebellion?

Clearly society has not thought this out!

The only really cool thing about electronic readers is that you won’t ever have to burn books again. You can just use an electromagnetic pulse to fry the reader instead.

And if there’s one irrefutable fact, it’s that EMPs are cool. Ebooks win!

And now, a word from our sponsor: me!
My book, Marlowe and the Spacewoman, is out!

Marlowe and the SpacewomanClick here to learn more or order a copy!

1 Comment

Posted by on 20 February 2012 in Reading


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